On its website, Apple says 100 percent of its U.S. operations and data centers run on renewable energy, as does 87 percent of its global operations. Pictured is an Apple solar farm in Hongyuan, China.

On its website, Apple says 100 percent of its U.S. operations and data centers run on renewable energy, along with 87 percent of its global operations. Pictured is an Apple solar farm in Hongyuan, China.

It was just three years ago that Greenpeace was rallying the troops to put pressure on Apple to  stop “powering their growing 21st-century clouds with dirty, 19th-century coal energy.” Whether it was the pressure that did it or not, Apple stands as a shining star in Greenpeace’s new update on the clean energy efforts of Internet-related businesses.

Apple’s aggressive pursuit of its commitment to power the iCloud with 100% renewable energy has given the company the inside track among the IT sector’s leaders in building a green Internet. Apple has made good on its pledge by building the largest privately owned solar farms at its North Carolina data center, working with its utility in Nevada to power its upcoming data center there with solar and geothermal energy, and purchasing wind energy for its Oregon and California data centers. Apple’s commitment to renewable energy has helped set a new bar for the industry, illustrating in very concrete terms that a 100% renewable Internet is within its reach, and providing several models of intervention for other companies that want to build a sustainable Internet. – Greenpeace, in the May 2015 update to Clicking Green: A Guide to Building the Green Internet

Greenpeace gives Apple “A” ratings across the board – in energy transparency, renewable energy commitment and siting policy, energy efficiency and mitigation, and renewable energy deployment and mitigation. In 2012, the company’s grades were D, F, D and D in those categories, respectively.

Greenpeace says this all matters because while “there may be significant energy efficiency gains from moving our lives online, the explosive growth of our digital lives is outstripping those gains.” The group pointed in particular at streaming video as a power suck, saying, “The rapid rise of streaming video is driving significant growth in our online footprint, and in power-hungry data centers and network infrastructure needed to deliver it.”